April 20, 2024

Most can remember playing the game “Telephone.” For Jackson Brown, junior Christian behavioral science major, this game is

Photo by Jessica Bills"Jackson Brown and Austin Cary communicate with sign language."
Photo by Jessica Bills
“Jackson Brown and Austin Cary communicate with sign language.”

remembered a little differently.

“Everybody agreed to play, but neglected the fact that I was the only deaf individual in the room and therefore incapable of playing the game the way it was designed,” Brown said.

This did not keep him from having fun. After three rounds of whispering random things in people’s ears, everyone finally caught on.

“Naturally, everybody laughed and felt ridiculous but that was one of the memories that I had of a negative experience turned into a positive one,” he said.

The deaf community is often misunderstood because they are not considered normal. Deaf people are just like everyone else and are capable of doing anything and everything.

Brown was born a hearing child, but at 14 months he became deaf as a result of Meningitis. The disease is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Throughout Brown’s life, he has attended all kinds of schools, including deaf, private, home and public schools. In public school, he was involved with a program called Deaf Hard of Hearing.

DHH is a program in public schools that helps deaf students get all the help they can while still being in mainstream classes. It offers ways for each individual student to get the exact help they personally need.

Austin Cary, sophomore liberal studies major, was also born hearing but at eight months became deaf.

Cary was depressed because the rest of his family could hear. When Cary became a Christian at 16-years-old, it changed his perspective. He “wanted people to not look down on deaf people” and felt God was telling him to help other deaf people come to Christ.

Brown and Cary first met in preschool. They have remained friends since and are now roommates. They enjoy off-roading, hunting, photography and playing guitar, which Brown has been doing for five years.

Being deaf does not bother Brown because he feels “just like normal” and does not “have anything to compare it to.”

Cary said, “A lot of deaf people keep to themselves because they connect better with each other. Hearing people should have an open mind and have more of an effort to reach out to the deaf.”

As far as hearing people communicating with the deaf community, Brown suggests people write as a way of talking to them.

“We don’t bite,” he said.

Getting creative and taking the initiative are the first steps to bridging the gap. Whatever the method people may use, communication between the hearing and deaf can be improved.

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